Cruising the Yangtze Day 1: Leaving Chongqing

Getting my Palm Read in China
April 12, 2012
Cruising the Yangtze Day 2: The Three Gorges
April 17, 2012

Cruising the Yangtze Day 1: Leaving Chongqing

A view of Chongqing from the Yangtze.

Our ship pulled out of Chongqing the night before at 22:00—slowly leaving the bright lights of this megacity at the confluence of two great rivers. We had explored Chongqing by foot, up and down its steep topography, for a few hours during the day. If you can see through the smog and fog, Chongqing is a rapidly modernizing and fast growing city. By far the most interesting neighborhood we saw was when we wandered down Eighteen Steps Lane. Here a thriving village is tucked under newly built skyscrapers.

Chongqing juts out between the Yangtze and Jialing Rivers in a fashion that reminds me of Manhattan sticking out between the East and Hudson Rivers. The light display on the buildings gave an air of Hong Kong as we gently drifted downstream. During the night we would sail past the hilly farmland in between Changshou and Fuling, arriving at Fengdu during breakfast the next morning.

Chongqing Yangtze Cruise Ships

First Stop: Fegdu

As an optional tours, some passengers disembarked for the Fengdu Ghost City tour—a bunch of ghost-focused temples. But as the rain poured down we were happy to stay aboard and participate in a free acupuncture and Chinese medicine demonstration. We learned about the benefits of acupuncture, cupping, the meridians of the body, and how to apply pressure to points of the body to ease motion sickness, cough, uneasy sleep, and regulate blood pressure.

We battled heavy fog the whole afternoon trudging eastward. Our excursion to Shibaozhai was delayed until the early evening. As we stepped off the ship, porters aggressively pursued our business.

voiw from Shibaozhai Pagoda along Yangtze


Second Stop: Shibaozhai

Considering that we had been stuck on board a boat all day, none of us passenger wished to be carried, and instead welcomed the 15-minute walk to the pagoda, now on an island. It was explained to us how the water level has risen since the dam was built and that much of the town was rebuilt further up the river bank. The tour guide proudly showed where the water level reaches its highest point in December and January and how the embankments, built by the government, protect the cultural landmark.

Shibaozhai is a 220-meter outcrop with a twelve-story red pagoda grafted onto its side. Lanruo Dian was built in 1819 below a temple dating to 1750. We walked through the inside of the wooden pagoda, up all the steps, hugging the cliff face. Like many temples, it was built without using nails.

Shibaozhai Pagoda

Back on the ship

At nightfall we boarded and sailed through the darkness. During the evening a welcome reception was held in the ballroom. In the morning we woke docked next to four other cruise ships at Baidi Cheng.

Yangtze bridge edit

Disclosure: This Yangtze River Cruise is in partnership with . The opinions expressed are entirely my own.

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Stephen Bugno
Stephen Bugno
Stephen Bugno has been traveling the world and writing about it for the better part of 20 years. His articles and essays have appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Seattle Times, and Transitions Abroad magazine. He blogs at Bohemian Traveler and edits the independent travel magazine He most recently set up a tour company offering authentic, small group tours at Unquote Travel. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


  1. Mike B. says:

    Beautiful pics. The last one almost reminds me a early 1900’s shot of the Brooklyn Bridge.

  2. Ross says:

    Thanks for the description of your cruise. I’m looking forward to more.

  3. Born27 says:

    I’ve heard of Yangtze River when I was in high school. It’s actually part of our history. Is Yangtze River known as Yellow River? If I am not mistaken.

  4. Juno says:

    I really liked Shibaozhai Pagoda. It was really cool!

  5. Roy says:

    To Born27.

    The Yangtze River is longest river in China which runs mostly in Southern China while the Yellow River the the second longest which runs mostly in Northern China.

  6. Heidi19 says:

    I love these pictures and it makes me want to visit this awesome river. Thanks for sharing this to us.

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